Mmusi Maimane. Picture: DA
Mmusi Maimane. Picture: DA

DA leader Mmusi Maimane claims that President Cyril Ramaphosa lied to parliament about the money received from Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson for his ANC presidential campaign, and has submitted a complaint to the public protector for investigation.

Bosasa, now known as African Global Operations, has received billions of rands in government contracts and has been implicated in allegations of widespread corruption.

Maimane and other DA members protested outside the the African Global Operations headquarters in Krugersdorp on Friday. At the event, Maimane said he did not accept that Ramaphosa was not aware of the R500,000 donation made by Bosasa into a trust account for his ANC presidential campaign. 

Ramaphosa had initially told the National Assembly that the only money received from the company by his son Andile was for services rendered in terms of a consultancy contract. Ramaphosa later corrected that reply, which he gave to a question by Maimane, in a letter sent last week to speaker Baleka Mbete.

The ANC has accepted that Ramaphosa made a sincere and honest mistake, but Maimane insists he lied to parliament.

“This is an extremely serious breach of conduct in terms of the Executive Members’ Ethics Act. It has very serious implications for his presidency and cannot be made to go away by a sheepish apology,” Maimane said. “For this reason, I have referred the matter to the office of the public protector for investigation. If it is then found that the president knowingly and willfully misled parliament, he will have to face the consequences. Because this is the level of accountability our democracy deserves.”

‘A bribe is a bribe’

Maimane said the way corruption works is that a company makes a “donation” to a politician, and in return is rewarded with government contracts, which are usually awarded outside of the normal tender process, and often at inflated prices.

“It happens every day, at every level and sphere of government. It has become the accepted way of doing business with the ANC, and it can range from R100 to secure a short-term Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) job, to hundreds of millions of rands to secure multi-billion rand contracts. It is a system of corruption that has become part of the very fabric of the ANC government,” the DA leader claimed. 

“A bribe is a bribe, whether it is paid to a local councilor, to Jacob Zuma or to Cyril Ramaphosa. If we were outraged when others did it, we should be equally outraged when the new president does it.” 

Maimane noted that very few companies do bigger business with the state than Bosasa. It has government contracts worth more than R10bn with the departments of correctional services, home affairs, social development and Airports Company SA. It has also been under investigation for large-scale fraud and corruption for more than a decade.

Maimane referred to reports of more than 400 criminal cases involving Bosasa having been referred to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) by the the Special Investigation Unit (SIU).

“These include the alleged payment of bribes to prison bosses in return for huge tenders — payments arranged by the very same Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson who gave the go-ahead for Ramaphosa’s payment. Only the NPA will be able to answer why, since 2007, no prosecutions have followed the detailed and ongoing investigation of the SIU.”

Maimane added that since 2013, Bosasa has installed high-end alarm systems, CCTV cameras and electric fencing, allegedly completely free of charge, for ANC leaders and business people.